New Mexico Federal Lands Council
Dear Federal & State Trust Lands Grazer:
On behalf of the New Mexico Federal Lands Council (NMFLC, formerly the New Mexico Public Lands Council) I am writing to alert you about an issue that will impact anyone who uses roads in the national forest system to access ranching operations or for any other purpose.
The US Forest Service (FS) is in the process of developing a Travel Management Plan (TMP). The TMP is being developed to control Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) use but it could end up leaving ranchers without access to their FS allotments.
Under present rules any road that is not marked “Closed” can be used. On the new Forest maps that are being drawn, only those roads marked as “Open” will be allowed to be used for any purpose. That includes checking waters, maintaining fences, hauling livestock or any other reason a rancher might have for using a road.
The potential problems for allotment owners are obvious. If a road a rancher uses to maintain a well, spring, stock tank, pipeline, fence, corrals or any other improvement is closed, he will have to access it horseback, on foot or abandon it. After the rule is in place, other roads could be designated but only after going through the NEPA process of public notification and comment and archeological clearance under SHPO. In practical terms, that means there won’t be any new roads designated.
Allotment owners need to get copies of the maps for their Ranger Districts. On maps recently obtained, roads marked green are currently open. Those in red are currently closed. Roads marked in brown are proposed to be closed under the new plan. If there is a road that is already marked closed or proposed to be closed that you need for your operation, you should inform the District Ranger in writing that you need that road left open to operate your grazing permit. If there are roads not shown on the map that you need to use, you should also request that they be drawn on the map and designated as open. If you can get GPS coordinates and/or pictures of roads that need to be designated open, it would help make sure they are correctly identified.
If you believe all roads need to be left open you should also make that comment in writing to the District Ranger. You can get a copy of the transportation rule at: http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/ohv/final.pdf
No deadlines have been set for the completion of the TMP. However, NMFLC urges ranchers make sure their necessary roads are in place as soon as possible. Some Forests in the state have set an initial cut off date of May 1st for inclusion of roads on the start point maps.
While it may not be impossible to get roads reinstated or listed after the completion of TMP, it will be costly with ranchers needing roads being required to pay for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis and archeological clearances.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is also considering OHV regulations. BLM allotment owners should be preparing to go through a similar process.
This is just one of the issues the NMFLC has been addressing on your behalf. In recent months, the organization has:
Successfully settled the Forest Guardians v. BLM Lien Waiver Case so that no individual private financial information can be released. The BLM will have to provide aggregate totals by field office along with the names of lending institutions. This was the settlement agreement entered into with the FS a few years ago.
Passed a resolution opposing a mandatory national animal identification system (NAIS)
Commented on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) dust regulations
Commented on the State Engineer’s proposed domestic well regulations
Urged Congress not to ban horse slaughter
Commented on the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project 5-Year Review Recommendations
Monitored new potential grazing legislation
Monitored proposed BLM grazing regulations
Participated with other agricultural groups in activities at the New Mexico Legislature
Worked on funding for predator management
On the Mexican Wolf issue we, along with many others in the ranching industry throughout the West, have been unable to do anything meaningful to stop the suffering ranchers in “wolf country” are experiencing. But this is an effort we will continue.
As you know, addressing all of these issues requires time, money and membership. If you are not currently an NMFLC member, I want to extend a personal invitation for you to join us. Below is a membership form for your convenience. If you have questions or if there are issues you believe we need to address, please do not hesitate to contact me at 505.484.3268, firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact NMFLC via the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) at 505.247.0584. Because all of us, like you, have many jobs on the ranch, we have an agreement with NMCGA to assist with our issues.
New Mexico Federal Lands Council Membership Application
Please find enclosed my check in the amount of $_______ for NMFLC dues at the rate of $.10 per AUM.
_____Yes, I’d like to receive regular email updates on issues affecting ranching in New Mexico
Please Mail To NMFLC / POB 1633 / Roswell, New Mexico 88202